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Scott hopes to create own legacy

Freshman Shaun Scott plays on the UNC junior varsity basketball team. DTH/Katherine Vance
Freshman Shaun Scott plays on the UNC junior varsity basketball team. DTH/Katherine Vance

It is 1994, and the jersey-clad hopeful waits to hear his name.

“At guard,” a voice says, “From the University of North Carolina…”

Hearing his cue, 3-year-old Shaun Scott hops off a fireplace and races to his coach. Well, to his father-turned-temporary-announcer and coach. The one forever a Tar Heel legend.Charlie Scott, the University’s first black scholarship athlete, meets his son in a huddle.

The moment is captured on video. But Shaun’s introduction has been re-enacted numerous times. In his living room. In his head. Shaun, now a freshman, plays junior varsity basketball in the Smith Center, where his father’s No. 33 jersey hovers over him. Shaun still waits, hoping to hear his name called.

“I’d love to walk on to varsity,” he said. “Compete for a national championship.”

Shaped by a legacy

In 1995, the Scott family attended a basketball team reunion. At every turn, photographs depicted Charlie Scott, the sole black player, surrounded by his white teammates. Shaun, 4, stood with his 6-year-old sister Simone, staring at a team photo. He had one burning question.

“Which one’s Daddy?”

“Shaun,” Simone answered. “You know Daddy wears number 33.”

Their mother let out a laugh and took note. The Scott children didn’t see color. They saw numbers. In essence, that part of their father’s legacy at UNC is easy. Two-time recipient of All-American honors. Three-time All ACC. Two consecutive Final Four berths. But as Shaun got older, the rest of the picture grew complicated.

“I’d listen to the stories,” he said. “And I’d learn something new about what he went through.”

The one where coach Dean Smith took his father and grandmother to a restaurant on a recruiting visit, which refused to serve his family because they were black.

Where they did end up eating — because Smith demanded it.

“My dad told us he did everything so that we could do what he couldn’t,” Simone said.

In September, Shaun was recognized by a former Tar Heel — an instance as familiar as the words that followed.

“You look just like your dad,” Vince Carter told him.

Shaun, a lanky 6-foot-4 guard, can appreciate being told he looks like his father. And that he will never have to experience what that meant for his father in the ’60s.

“Now I appreciate what he’s been through,” Shaun said. “What I don’t have to go through.”

Creating his own path

Announcements in the living room didn’t always run smoothly. If Charlie Scott made a key omission, he was promptly corrected. “Shaun would always be like, ‘From the University of North Carolina,’” his mother said. Now he is playing on the court he used to envision in his living room, fireplace replaced by a sideline.

With one more year of eligibility on the J.V. squad, Shaun hopes to try out for varsity his junior year. He is averaging 6.1 points a game but showing vast improvement, said J.V. coach Jerod Haase. On the court, Charlie Scott said Shaun’s jump shot, speed and physique give his pedigree away.

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But Shaun doesn’t.

“He does not try to use his name for anything,” Haase said. “He’s using his own credentials to earn things.”

Shaun admitted he doesn’t tell many people who his father is. That’s because he doesn’t want to carry that banner. He just wants to make the man who has one proud.

“He has a legacy he is proud of,” his father said. “He feels a responsibility to live up to the expectations of the legacy, what people believe his father was about.”

Shaun understands that a legacy isn’t just composed of numbers. Sometimes that’s the easy part.

“I want to graduate on time, have very good grades and see where I’m headed in life,” Shaun said. “Leave college prepared for the real world.”

Still, he continues to work hard, hoping to hear his name called.

After all, he has been waiting since he was 3 years old.

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.